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There are several levels of training you will need to complete before becoming a nurse practitioner so answering the question “How long to become a Nurse Practitioner?” can be complicated and the educational process can take anywhere from five to seven years depending on the path that is taken.

 

 

 

 

What Are the Undergraduate Nursing Education Requirements?

To become a registered nurse, you should complete an accredited associate degree or bachelor’s degree that focuses on nursing.  This will be the first step that allows you to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).  Undergraduate degrees require a mix of intensive lectures and a clinical component.  Clinicals are completed under the supervision of a clinical instructor, who is an experienced registered nurse.  When you are attending school full-time, an associate degree takes approximately two years and a bachelor’s degree takes approximately four years.  There are accelerated programs for undergraduate nurses that take less time to complete, with the average being three years for a bachelor’s degree.

 

Can Bridge Programs be Used by Nurse Practitioners?

Licensed registered nurses who completed an associate degree may choose to bridge into a bachelor of science in nursing or a master of science in nursing.  If you have a bachelor’s degree in another field, you may be able to go straight from your associate degree to your master’s degree in nursing.  If you are bridging into your bachelor’s degree, many programs can be completed in one year when you attend full-time and have all required prerequisites completed.  Bridging to you master’s degree usually takes the same amount of time as a non-bridge master’s degree.

 

What is the Nurse Practitioner Program?

A nurse practitioner program is a master of science in nursing with the specialty focus of nurse practitioner.  On average, it takes about three years to complete this program when you are attending full-time.  After you complete your degree, you can apply for the licensure type that your state requires.  This degree will require both classroom work and a clinical component.  If you want to specialize, such as in obstetrics or acute care, you will need to complete additional clinical training and this usually takes one year.

 

Is a Doctorate Degree Required?

At this time, you are not required to possess a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) to practice as a nurse practitioner in the United States.  However, this could change in the future.  The DNP is generally completed in five consecutive semesters for those with a master’s of science in nursing.  The DNP is highly focused on a scholarly project that will vary by school.

 

How Long to Become a Nurse Practitioner?

How long it takes will depend on the route you take.  The average time to completion is five to seven years for those starting with their undergraduate degree and working all the way through their master of science in nursing.  If you get your doctorate degree, it will take longer.

 

Resources

American Academy of Family Physicians: Education and Training: Family Physicians and Nurse Practitioners

Health Careers Network: How Many Years Does it Take to Become a Nurse Practitioner

Duke University School of Nursing: Frequently Asked Questions About Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Program

 

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